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There is something freeing about living on your own. It’s quiet, calm, and comfortable. You make decisions on your own, you get to keep your home the way you like it, you can walk around the house naked and no one would care. No one is there to tell you what and what not do.

But there are also risks. What if you get a really bad nightmare, have a medical emergency, or someone invades your house? How to stay safe when you are home alone is a rising concern among people living independently. The Census Bureau reported that in 2013, 27% of Americans are living alone. Most of them are either old or young. A secure independent living is something people living solo aim for, especially since they are common victims of burglary. In New Zealand for example, of all burglary incidence reported to the police, 81% came from people living alone. It is imperative that people living solo take to heart relevant tips on safe independent living. Here is a 12-point guide on how to live alone safely.

Don’t be a snob, get to know your neighbors

You don’t need to be best friends with your neighbors, but at least get to know their names and exchange pleasantries with them. A warm, sincere hello goes a long way. You can ask them to pick up your mail when you’re away for days, watch over your property, or alert you or the proper authorities when something suspicious happens.

Do your homework and research about your neighborhood

Is crime rate high in the community? Are there guards on patrol during the night? These are things you can easily find out by doing some legwork. Scope out the neighborhood during the day and at night. Knowing what is normal in your area is the first step to spotting the suspicious activity. Do not just focus on your immediate surrounding but also the areas where you frequent, like a transport terminal or a grocery store.

Check your apartment for security red flags

Go beyond the bedroom and bathroom when checking out a house. Walk around your apartment and look for security risks such as deadbolts, keyholes, doors, windows, and lights. If you notice that the windows don’t open and close smoothly, get the security problem fixed at once.

Don’t open the door at once

Ever heard of eye holes or peep holes? You should get one installed on your door. This is a very affordable security essential that people living solo should consider. When someone knocks on your door, give it a peep first and when you don’t know who it is, be ready to inform the authorities. It’s common sense, so remember to not open your door unless you know who’s there.

Make it appear you are home

This is may be another issue of common sense but it’s worth reminding people who live alone. It is not totally advisable to keep your curtains closed because this will give burglars the idea that no one’s home and find a golden opportunity. Open your shades when you can during the day. Keep them closed at night because the light penetrates anyway, essentially telling intruders that someone’s home. You can also keep valuables away from plain view. Items such as your new home theater system, jewelry, or gadgets must be kept safe in your house. You should also place alarm sensors on windows as a practical way to prevent break-ins.

Keep emergency contacts close

You probably know the delivery hotline of that pizza place by heart. How about the police or neighbors? When you are living on your own, you should keep emergency numbers on speed dial. You should save them on your phone and post them on the refrigerator door. Should you have a medical emergency, at least you know what to dial. Although most locations offer 911 services, you should still keep neighbors, close friends, and family in that list as well.

Install a reliable home security system

Invest on a reliable home alarm system. Do not let modern features fool you because you will be surprised at how affordable they are. If you’re looking for alarm systems on a budget, there are a lot of home security options that are reliable, easy to install, and easy to operate. Home security systems prove to be an effective crime deterrent, according to convicted burglars themselves. One study found that 83% of burglars determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary and 73% said they would discontinue the attempt if a target has an alarm.

Utilize your mobile device

It is easier to be prepared for break-ins now because of smartphones. There are security systems that you can get from Alarm System Store that can be paired with your smartphone. This will allow you to pull up live videos from your surveillance cameras at home. You can also remotely change the settings of your security system. In addition, you can program it so that you will receive real-time alerts on your phone.

Download a security app  

Security apps are widely available and some of them can be downloaded for free. This is a security essential for anyone who lives alone. You can quickly activate it if you feel threatened. You can incorporate emergency contacts in the app so that they can be notified of your location if something unusual happens. Some apps also offer GPS tracking.

Report to authority

Another advantage of getting to know your neighbors is that you get to familiarize yourself with who lives in the building or community and who doesn’t. Once you notice some suspicious guy patrolling the community as if in search for gold, better notify the authorities immediately. You may also alert your neighbors and landlord if you are renting the property.

Don’t give out clues on social media

Do not overshare on social media. If you live alone, don’t let the whole virtual world know about it. Burglars are tech and social media savvy. Don’t post pictures if you are alone in the apartment while having a movie marathon. Also, refrain from posting vacation photos or checking in to some café. That may give burglars a clue that you’re not home.

Go ahead and fake it

This may sound silly to some but hold your judgment for a while. People living on their own are an easy prey so make intruders believe that you are living with a family or even a burly man. You can hang different sizes of socks and shirts in your balcony or porch. Never take these security tips lightly, especially if you are living alone. Tips on safe independent living may seem a lot like common sense but they can save lives. Take the necessary steps to a secure independent living.

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